I got into the kitchen early this morning. I haven’t really been playing a lot, lately, and decided today was the perfect day to make up for lost calories.
First thing I did was make bread dough for Pane Siciliano. It’s warm and just a tad muggy outside. Mother Nature’s perfect proofing box! The recipe comes from Carol Field’s The Italian Baker and is a snap to make. Oddly, the first time I made it I had some problems with the dough – it was much too dry – but I made the exact recipe again in Sicily and it came out perfect. As did the batch I made today. Methinks I screwed up the first time and just didn’t realize it, because the last two batches have been excellent – using the exact same recipe.
There are three variations on shaping the dough listed in her book, so today, I decided to try one other than the ‘S’ I have done in the past. Both start out as a rope of dough but the one below is more like an ‘M’ with the end folded back over itself.
The instructions say not to tuck the final strip under the dough, but I could have made it a bit longer. It pulled back when it rose the second time.
Not that it mattered – it still tasted great!
Makes 2 loaves
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp malt syrup
- 1 cup water, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups durum flour or semolina for pasta
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the oil, malt, and 1 cup of water. Mix the flours and salt and whisk in 1 cup at a time into the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Knead on a floured surface 8 to 10 minutes, occasionally slamming the dough down vigorously to develop the gluten.
Stir the yeast into the 1 1/4 cups warm water in a large mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil and malt with the paddle; then add the flours and salt and mix until smooth. Change to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until; the dough is firm, compact, and elastic with lots of body, 4 to 5 minutes. Finish kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface.
First rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. The dough should be springy and blistered, but still soft and velvety.
Shaping and second rise. Punch the dough down, knead it briefly, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Flatten it with your forearm into a square. Rollit into a long, narrow rope, about 20 to 22 inches long. The dough should be so elastic that it could almost be swung and stretched like a jump rope. Cut the dough in half and shape each into a loaf. (The book shows 3 classic shapes and illustrations; Mafalda, Occhi di Santa Lucia, and the baked Corona. I made the Santa Lucia.)
Place the loaves on floured parchment paper, peels sprinkled with corn meal, or oiled baking sheets. Brush the entire surface of each loaf with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds; pat the seeds very gently into the dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and then a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Baking. Thirty minutes before baking heat the oven with baking stones to 425°. Sprinkle the stones with cornmeal just before sliding the loaves onto them. Bake 10 minutes, spraying 3 times with water. Reduce the heat to 400° and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer. Cool on racks.
It really is an easy bread to make – and it really does taste great.
Give it a try.